Driving along Dickerson Pike in East Nashville, you can’t miss the brightly colored mural that has been added to the landscape. Take a closer look, and you’ll see the gold lettering and green interior of Retrograde Coffee. After a swift ninety day building period, the café opened on July 14. Before Retrograde’s opening, there wasn’t a cafe in the neighborhood. The community’s response has been positive– in the short time since they’ve been open, they’ve already established a base of regulars.
Founder Steve Mabee explains he and his partners David Mabee and Nathan Weinberg chose the name Retrograde because they wanted the space to encourage people to take pause. Steve Mabee and company enlisted the help of architects Smith Gee, designer firm Perky Brothers, and beverage program Jordan Thompson to accomplish this vision.
“We were aware that Cleveland Park was a neighborhood that didn’t have a place where the community could have coffee and slow down,” Mabee says. The space, in combination with the lovely coffee offerings, encourages you to do just that.
Retrograde is the first cafe in Nashville to offer Onyx Coffee Lab as their house coffee. The award-winning roaster from Fayetteville, Arkansas is their main roaster, but also in the rotation are regional favorites such as Quills Coffee out of Louisville and Brash Coffee from Atlanta. Thompson plans to include other roasters from the Southeast region. “I wanted it to be a gathering of southeast roasters that are doing cool stuff as well as assemble a line up to appease any palette,” says Thompson.
The cafe is bright and airy with dark green and gold accents. A matching green La Marzocco GB5 sits atop the marble countertop along with an assortment of grinders (Baratza Fortes and a Sette, Malkhonig Tanzania, Mazzer Kony, and Super Jolly to be exact). The first time I went, I had an incredibly juicy Ethiopian Kercha coffee roasted by Onyx brewed on the Kalita wave brew bar. On another visit, they were serving the Brash Aquiares Co-Op Costa Rica on both espresso and brew bar. This naturally processed coffee made for a sweet, mellow filter coffee and a bright and citric espresso. For customers looking for a quick coffee to go, right now they have Southern Weather blend by Onyx available from the Fetco XTS (drip or flash chilled). In addition to classic coffee offerings of espresso and milk drinks, beverage director Jordan Thompson has some seasonal signature drinks for those looking to branch out (right now, it’s the Kronos and the Sól).
Next time you find yourself in East Nashville, be sure to give this neighborhood coffee stop a try. They’re sure to become one of Nashville’s staple cafes.
Retrograde is located at 1305 Dickerson Pike and is open 7-6 M-Sat and 8-4 on Sundays.